So, remember last year when the writers were demanding they be paid for their work and the studios were all "the internet doesn't count as your work" and were refusing and therefore the writers said "we'll see about that" and decided the internet (and everything else) could just do without their services for a while until someone decided the internet DID in fact count and thusly should be included in their paychecks? Remember that?

Well, I remember it VERY well. These writers and their self-indulgent insistence that they be compensated for their work deprived me of an entire season of Jack Bauer and the rest of the Counter Terrorist Unit of '24' (That and Kiefer Sutherland's 48 day stint in jail for some drunk driving or something...that booking photo could be a studio shot.). I sat every Sunday night lamenting the lack of any badass Jack Bauer beatings of bad guys and the twisted, manipulative stylings of the many bad guys (who maybe turned out to be good guys or vice versa??) Republican propaganda it may or may not be - I don't care - I've been hooked from season 1 and hooked HARD. Not necessarily a suprise since the OCD force is strong with this one.

The writers are looking for redemption with their latest effort to bring us all up to speed on what Jack has been up to lo these many months of script limbo. And redeemed they are. Two hours of Jack evading a Congressional subpoena on his torturous activities of years past and yet still trying to rescue a group of African boys from being kidnapped to fight in a rebel army did not disappoint.

O TV moguls! Why must you make us wait until January and tease us so mercilessly??

The Looming Fun.

I can feel it about to descend. I can sense it in the smells coming from the warm and steaming kitchen. In the subtle change in vibrations from the house.

It's coming.

The fun. The family. The crazy.

And I'm so excited.


Hill Country Camping

The laundry is done, the campfire smell washed out of the sleeping bags, the tent packed away 'til next time and we're all thawed out from our below 20 degrees night of camping.

That's right. Below 20 degrees. 18 to be exact. I don't care what anybody might have told you about 18 degrees, but it is most undeniably, COLD. Cold enough to conjure thoughts of a sweet suburban family of four being found frozen solid, herds of deer, armies of armadillos and a gang of wild turkeys roaming wild all around them.

Despite the cold Saturday night, the camping trip was a grand success. There was bike riding, fishing, kayaking, geocaching, touring around the park on a 1951 firetruck, cleanest bathrooms at a campsite ever, nicest park rangers at a state park ever and even a sweet little abandoned fawn named Curtis bottle-raised by afore-mentioned nicest park rangers.

Two things that must be done before the next camping trip. 1) Get warmer sleeping bags, and 2) train Little A and Big E's bladders to go more than a few hours without having to get up for a potty run. Because dragging yourself out of a semi-warm sleeping bag on a cold night to walk to the bathroom (no matter how clean)? Uh....no.


Twilight's Darkest Hour

Watching this movie must be exactly what it's like to be a 'vegetarian' vampire. It counts as sustenance, but it's never fully satisfying. Oh, it's definitely a movie alright. It's a way to spend two hours that doesn't totally suck, and if you're with friends, it'll even count as time well spent because it was fun. But if you're looking for a quality cinematic experience my suggestion is you switch your ticket out for Bolt. Not that I've seen that, but surely, it's GOT to be better.

Now for the introspective portion of the review. As I've pondered the movie today, I've wondered WHY do I continue to ponder this movie that suffered greatly from struggling to find an overall "feel" and never could get the timing quite right? I'm sticking with my assertion that these actors CAN actually act and blaming inept directing / editing. There is a little part of me that continues to look for excuses to see the movie again. Maybe I could take Big E. Or I could sneak in another secret, anonymous 9:30 showing. Any other friends who'd want some company? Seriously. It wasn't a good movie. And still there's a nugget of me that thinks I should see it again. Maybe I just missed the "thing" that would make it great.

The books are the same way. They're not great writing. Great story, yes. Competent story-telling even. But the writing? Eh. Very simplistic. As subtle as being hit in the head with a can of corn. And yet. Could I stop reading them? No. Did I continue to contemplate beautiful, sensitive Edward, Bella and their forbidden love? Yes. Yes, I did. And why? Why would I not just move on and put it behind me like most everything else I read? It's like Stephanie Meyer put some kind of Mormon curse on me.

I want to read those books after they've been rewritten by a great writer (and including the previously deleted scenes...you know what I'm talking about). I want to see that movie after it's been redirected and edited and a new stylist has fixed the Edward Scissorhands-esque crazy mess that was the Cullen family's overly abundant hair and absurd make-up.

This shot isn't truly representative, but was Jasper meant as a joke? He's the one in the back, on the right. I thought so, since we laughed every time he appeared on the screen but then I realized that no one else was laughing. This happened several times and it started to become awkward.

I do hope they make the rest of the books into movies. And I hope they step it up a notch. We deserve better.


Going Retro

Like two weeks retro. Because while I was consumed with pre-election statistics, polls, October AND November surprises, and Joe the Plumber, life was steadily marching forward in that way it does. Halloween came and with it the annual triple batch of Uncle Whit's chili. Some of you may recall the mishap that occurred last year in which paprika and cayenne pepper became indistinguishable and therefore several tablespoons of the latter made it into the batch. I've heard cayenne pepper has "cleansing" properties and I think a few brave (and polite to the point of being self-harming) souls can attest to the accuracy of those claims.

No such confusion this year as I was careful to not even remove the cayenne from the spice shelf in case the jokester in me decided it sure would be funny to ruin a huge batch of chili two years in a row! Wouldn't that be a riot? Right, PJ?? Right??

We had so much good food, the kids played and had a great time and headed out for the obligatory candy begging at dusk. They are moving a lot faster these days and Little A led the pack. Gone are the days of us dragging and coaxing him and hollering at Big E to slow down so we can try to stay together.

So these are the pictures that I will look back upon when I'm a little old lady and reminiesce of the days when my kids were little. The annual photo on the stairs with our co-beggars and the one in front of the neighbor's puffalump pumpkin.

He's Indiana Jones, in case you were wondering. This seemed like an odd choice to me, but what do I know? I'm just a mom.


Riding the Wurst, '08

How can we be so lucky two years in a row to have beautiful weather on a November day? Austin is known for its lovely weather, but we do get rain and strong winds and even the anomalous cold day. Or a really hot day in the 90s. Especially in November - just about anything is possible. Wednesday there were winds gusting in the 30 mph range, so I was a bit nervous about what Mother Nature would serve up for Saturday.

I needn't have worried. It was chilly-ish at the beginning but definitely manageable. There was a slight-to-moderate headwind that slowed me down a bit but otherwise, gorgeous. The rest stops were well stocked with bananas, pickles peanut butter pretzels, MoJo bars and cookies and not overly crowded. My luck wouldn't hold out when it came to documenting the day...I had counted on using my phone to take pictures but when it was finally warm enough to switch from my warm biking gloves into my fingerless (and therefore photograph-capable) gloves, the battery was dead.

The sausage was fabulous and the beer was icy cold. Sausage and beer never have tasted as good as they did after a 62 mile bike ride. The sauerkraut was divine! I even made it over to Wurstfest for some homemade potato chips (oh my God! I need to buy a deep fryer JUST so I can have homemade potato chips much, much more often) and an eyeful of lederhosen.

I missed out on lots of fun at home. Little A had his last soccer game against the much talked about Millenium team. They're hard core over there and it showed. The Dragon's winning streak was halted right quick but Little A still had a fun game. Except for those boys that pushed a lot. Then two birthday parties, back-to-back. Bubble Boy had his hands full doing Dad-duty all by himself. November weekends are crazy.

Top all that goodness off with a hotter than hot shower, some deliciously hot tea, a cozy blanket and a foot massage and lights out by 9:30 and it was a pretty darn great day.


It happened.

Challenges in healthcare, social security, and education.

Two wars and economic upheaval.

And yet.

I feel hopeful.


Media Blackout!

After weeks of obsession The Day has arrived, and in the way highly anticipated events tend to be, it's a letdown. Awareness of this phenomenon doesn't change the outcome but does makes it less emotionally disappointing. Had I done any of the things I had said I'd do today, such as help out at a phone bank, or help drive voters to the polls, or even sit around watching cable news all day eating all the kid's Halloween candy, I'd feel guiltily satisfied. Well, not guilty over the phone bank or driving voters, just eating all the candy.

And yet none of that happened today. Child-related responsibilities prevented me from doing any of those things and have kept me in a virtual media blackout for nigh on 48 hours. Other than a snippet here and there I've had no word on the latest polls, voter troubles, speech-related controversies, pundit predictions or Joe the Plumberisms. I did hear that Obama's grandmother had died and my heart broke that she did not live long enough to see the man she raised as her son win the presidency. I may be getting a bit ahead of myself with that statement, but whatever. Whether it ends up being true or not, I hope someone whispered in her ear that it was over and he had won. Every mother of a president (EVEN those for whom I have nothing but contempt) deserves to know that she raised a President.

The media blackout will end soon as I commence my Election Night activities. If you haven't voted. Go. Now. And do us good.